When it comes to nightlife in Detroit, the clubbing elite look no further than V Nightclub, the lavish Vegas-style party destination housed inside the MGM Grand Casino resort. This year, they're celebrating eight years of high-energy parties with premier DJ acts from around the world and an outrageous dance party this Saturday, October 3 thrown by V's resident DJ — Detroit's own Captn20, aka Nick Haddad. Joining Mr. 20 is special guest Eric Aguirre, better known as DJ Vice, a 20-year industry veteran who currently is on residency himself at Vegas' mega-club Tao.
Both artists hail from inimitable EDM/hip-hop label Skam, whose roster includes the likes of Samantha Ronson, Jermaine Dupri, Lil Jon, and Swizz Beatz. Both guys have made a name for themselves on dance floors worldwide with their genre-bending, open-format style of DJ'ing.
We interviewed each of the fearless DJs before they converge on Detroit for some serious party making.
Metro Times: Growing up, I understand that you were a bit of a misfit— gambling, racing cars, strip clubs, etc. So how did you wind up turning to music?
Captn20: Well, everyone knows that Detroit is the Motor City, so that would explain my obsession with cars, and growing up south of 8 Mile made it pretty convenient to have "meetings" at strip clubs. Getting into the music biz was the last thing I needed to complete the trifecta of what Detroit is best known for, I suppose. I always had a passion for music though. I remember watching my good friend DJ Whip in high school, and all the guys carrying crates of records around, wishing I could do that.
Hearing guys like The Wizard and the Electrifying Mojo come down from "the mothership" on the radio — those days were epic days for radio DJs when I was growing up. Living in the hood, the radio was all we really had. I got serious about a girl once, and she threatened to break up with me if I didn't quit drag racing. So that's when I decided to get into DJing — a much more responsible hobby.
MT: You cite a wide range of influences on your DJ style. What in particular can you credit with inspiring you the most?
C20: I think a lot of the freestyle and booty era. "Planet Rock," Egyptian Lover, Kraftwerk, that whole era of music is what we used to bump through our kicker boxes. The '80s sound of Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, and then of course the golden era of '90s hip-hop: Biggie, 'Pac, still to this day. But watching Carl Cox play on 3 turntables, and Morillo playing eight-hour marathon sets of amazing house music, those were probably what inspired me most as a DJ. Tracks like Guetta's "Love Is Gone" and Bob Sinclar's "World Hold On" forming that link between house music and the mainstream was a really amazing time as well.
MT: What were/are some of your favorite clubs to play in Detroit?
C20: I'd probably say that Lush lounge in Hamtramck is what really makes me smile when I think about Detroit clubs. It was all about love and house music back then. But V Nightclub at MGM Grand Detroit is really what opened the door for me and has allowed me to do what I love, both as an artist and as a businessman. It's really the only nightclub left in Michigan that can give you that "Vegas" experience.
MT: You've performed for a variety of celebrities, from Sean "Diddy" Combs to the Kardashians and Miley Cyrus. Has any celebrity rendered you starstruck?
C20: I'd prolly have to say it was when I did the Real Steel wrap party and Hugh Jackman walked in. I'm a super comic book nerd, so I kinda peed myself a little when Wolverine went to give me a dap. MT: What do you consider success to mean?
C20: Being able to help other artists in the city showcase their talents is a great feeling, something that I'm very proud of. I've been able to show the rest of the country and the world what Detroit is really all about: that hard work, dedication, and commitment really can overcome anything negative the media portrays about our city.
MT: What's your current state of mind?
DJ Vice: Invigorated! I am more focused than ever right now. I just recently had a baby, signed another Vegas contract, started working out with a trainer, and have tons of new original music I am releasing.
MT: What's the worst DJ gig you've ever had?
Vice: I DJ'd at Kenny G's birthday party, way way back. It was the worst gig until Arnold Schwarzenegger got on the dance floor — then it was the best gig ever! C'mon, who can really say they had Kenny G and Arnold partying!
MT: What does "genre bending" mean in terms of your own music?
Vice: I have always been labeled an "Open Format" DJ. For some reason that title never worked for me and that's how I came up with "Genre BendR." I really don't have a style of music I play. I play anything and everything I want to play just like the way you listen to music in your car— no boundaries.
MT: What is it like having a residency in Las Vegas? What has been your favorite city to play live in?
Vice: I have been a resident DJ in Las Vegas for 11 years now and it's still amazing. The energy of that city continues to grow every day. It is still my favorite city in the USA to play in. Outside that, it's Tokyo!
MT: You also own the wildly popular sneaker boutique CRSVR with locations in Santa Barbara and Las Vegas. What's your favorite pair of sneakers in your own personal collection?
Vice: Nike Air Mags, aka Marty McFly shoes from Back to the Future.
MT: After 20 years in the game, do you find the music industry is oversaturated with EDM DJs?
Vice: Not one bit! True talent shines a lot more that way!
MT: If you could die and come back as a piece of musical equipment, what would you be?
Vice: A fader!
The eight year anniversary of V Nightclub is celebrated this Saturday, October 3. It starts at 10 p.m.; 1777 Third St., Detroit; presale tickets are $20 and available at vnightclubtix.com; VIP accommodations available at 313-465-1650; 21 and older.